David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.
The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last under an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.
Miranda was released, but officials confiscated electronics equipment including his mobile phone, laptop, camera, memory sticks, DVDs and games consoles.
Although the officials of the English Customs vary in appearance, you would never mistake them for those of any other profession. One of their eyes is always looking at you while the other is consulting some dog-eared book of regulations. A pencil, which is always a half-pencil, is stuck behind an ear. There are invariably a few wrinkles on their noses, contributing to the overall animation of their faces. Towards their fellow countrymen they are most affable, jesting and joking as they examine passports, and when it’s a lady they encounter, they’re particularly chatty. Towards foreigners, however, they have a different attitude. They straighten their shoulders, set their mouths and bring their imperial superiority to the fore. Sometimes, it’s true, they go so far as to give the ghost of a smile. Which is certain to be followed by refusal to permit you to land.